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ToSeek
2008-May-14, 06:58 PM
Aliens Should Always Have Poetic Weaknesses (http://io9.com/389379/aliens-should-always-have-poetic-weaknesses)


The greatest alien visitors in science fiction are totally invulnerable — except for one crucial weakness. And the best almost-unstoppable aliens have a weakness that is more poetic than Sylvia Plath and William Blake put together. Just look at our video compilation of aliens encountering their most poetic Achilles heels, and then check out our complete round-up.

KaiYeves
2008-May-14, 08:30 PM
And before anyone asks, yes, I do have a weakness. But I'm not invading, so it doesn't matter.

DukePaul
2008-May-14, 09:27 PM
It would seem that one of the most effective weapons man(and woman) could use against an invading alien army would be the sneeze. Yes it combines all the best ingredients of a weapon of mass destruction: Water...all aliens fear this universal solvent
Germs and microbes....Martians beware
Snot..a great sticking agent for the above and it really creeps out the ET

Combined, these awesome natural products then accelerated by the force and sound of the human lung, well those stupid aliens don't stand a chance.

stutefish
2008-May-14, 09:39 PM
Hrm.

I wonder what Humanity's poetic weakness will be, when we conquer the stars and encounter alien races.

mike alexander
2008-May-14, 10:19 PM
One of the best uses of this was in Poul Anderson's novel The Man Who Counts (republished under the awful title War of the Wing Men). Nick van Rijn defeats the alien warlord by taunting him and then mooning him. Alien takes a bite out of said moon, dies from the alien proteins.

As Old Nick said: "Being peaceful man, I just turn the other cheek."

Tobin Dax
2008-May-15, 04:05 AM
And before anyone asks, yes, I do have a weakness. But I'm not invading, so it doesn't matter.
Kai, we all know that your weakness is no internet connection. :D

jokergirl
2008-May-15, 07:26 AM
Humans? Just give them a religion and something to squabble internally against, they'll never get anything done.

This reminds me of the Tropes discussed in the Scifi cliché thread. Wasn't there one that said even if all alien races have a schtick (being smart and nonemotional, being warriorlike, the works), humans are usually protrayed as the "adaptive" or the "clever" ones. Just for once I would like to see a universe that doesn't do that.
How about "Well, humans aren't too adaptive or too clever compared with the Flixians or the Blubiari, but they are so d@mn stubborn they'll still get there eventually"?
Or Niven, where humans had the schtick "lucky".

;)

Ilya
2008-May-15, 12:58 PM
Humans? Just give them a religion and something to squabble internally against, they'll never get anything done.

This reminds me of the Tropes discussed in the Scifi cliché thread. Wasn't there one that said even if all alien races have a schtick (being smart and nonemotional, being warriorlike, the works), humans are usually protrayed as the "adaptive" or the "clever" ones. Just for once I would like to see a universe that doesn't do that.

That annoys me also. Very vary rarely does SF portray aliens which can be described as creative and ingenious. Off the top of my head I can think of only three (all in Niven's universes, oddly enough): Pak, Jotoki, and Moties. And all three have built-in flaws which render ingenuity far less useful.

ToSeek
2008-May-15, 02:49 PM
And before anyone asks, yes, I do have a weakness. But I'm not invading, so it doesn't matter.

But is it a poetic weakness?

Ilya
2008-May-15, 02:49 PM
But is it a poetic weakness?

She does not rhyme well.

stutefish
2008-May-15, 02:51 PM
Humans? Just give them a religion and something to squabble internally against, they'll never get anything done.

This reminds me of the Tropes discussed in the Scifi cliché thread. Wasn't there one that said even if all alien races have a schtick (being smart and nonemotional, being warriorlike, the works), humans are usually protrayed as the "adaptive" or the "clever" ones. Just for once I would like to see a universe that doesn't do that.
How about "Well, humans aren't too adaptive or too clever compared with the Flixians or the Blubiari, but they are so d@mn stubborn they'll still get there eventually"?
Or Niven, where humans had the schtick "lucky".

;)
I think there's a difference between the weaknesses we see in ourselves, and the stereotypical weakness that will be perceived by the alien races we encounter.

If we're going to treat all alien cultures as monolithic and "schticky", why wouldn't they do the same to us? For all we know, they might even be fundamentally incapable of considering us as a heterogenous collection of unique individuals. Or they might be philosophically inclined to disregard what they see as our superficial individualities, in favor of contemplating the deeper truth revealed to them by their philosophy of our collective nature.

Matherly
2008-May-15, 03:29 PM
I'm not woried as much about the alien's poetic weakness as I am about his weak poetry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogon_poetry)

mike alexander
2008-May-15, 04:23 PM
Part of the alien weakness can be traced back to the influence of John Campbell and his long tenure at Astounding/Analog magazine, who did so much to develop two generations of popular SF writers. Campbell had a bee in his bonnet that humans should be the ones who come out on top.

One set of Aliens that didn't have a poetic weakness is the Invaders in John Varley's Eight Worlds series.

Ilya
2008-May-15, 04:36 PM
Another one is Entities in Silverberg's "Alien Years".

I think "Alien Years" is a good indicator that Campbellian SF is dead -- AFAIK, no one was particularly ruffled by the idea of immensely superior, contemptuous*, and fundamentally unfathomable aliens.

* If human enotions like "contempt" even translate to Entities -- which we can not know.

KaiYeves
2008-May-15, 07:56 PM
Kai, we all know that your weakness is no internet connection.
Nah, it's the sight of an octopus. Makes me run screaming in the other direction.

jokergirl
2008-May-16, 07:52 AM
That annoys me also. Very vary rarely does SF portray aliens which can be described as creative and ingenious. Off the top of my head I can think of only three (all in Niven's universes, oddly enough): Pak, Jotoki, and Moties. And all three have built-in flaws which render ingenuity far less useful.

And of those three, only some Moties are really creative (those bred for it/ the watchmakers) and Pak shouldn't really count out of spoilerific reasons :)

About the aliens not being able to help seeing us as "schticky": Do we do that in other nationalities? Sort of I would say, but not as pronounced anymore since globalisation makes a big smear out of all cultures.
I would like to see one alien race with at least two distinctly different nationalities and cultures for once. Who says that not two nations started spacefaring at the same time? Or a colony that split from the mother planet later on? Think commies versus feds in space...

;)

Matherly
2008-May-16, 03:33 PM
Do we do that in other nationalities? Sort of I would say, but not as pronounced anymore since globalisation makes a big smear out of all cultures.

Well... there's always the Snooty Cheese-eating Surender-Monkies :D

(In the intrest of disclosure I must admit I have a great affection for the French and any comments I make about them are all in good fun, so says this Arrogant Uncooth Stoopid American)